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Working parents say companies are discriminating against them for focusing on their families

Those returning to work want more flexibility and do not want to be penalized for taking care of family, according to a new study.

Working parents say companies are discriminating against them for focusing on their families
[Source Photo: monkeybusiness/iStock]
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The COVID-19 era is allegedly a time when everyone gives their coworkers grace and space to juggle home and job responsibilities as best as they can. Yet a study by Qualtrics and theBoardlist of more than 1,200 participants reveals that nearly half (45%) of working parents feel discriminated against for focusing on their families. That included being passed over for promotions, getting critical feedback, and even being asked to cut the time spent caring for family members.

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And if you think managers got off easy, the study found that higher-level employees, all the way up to vice presidents, reported feeling more discriminated against than reports from individual contributors.

Among the other key findings taken from the report:

  • 42% of employees feel pressured to work in person at the office, even if their employer is offering a hybrid or remote option.
  • 54% of unemployed respondents say they are still deciding whether or not to return to the workforce, while 42% of unemployed respondents say they would need full flexibility to choose their work model in order to go back to work.
  • Those who left work voluntarily said they’d come back if they received: more flexibility on working hours, reduced working hours, and increased paid time off.
  • 78% of employees agree that companies should provide mental health services for their employees, yet only 39% of employees say their company currently provides resources to assist with mental health issues.

Megan Wang, COO of theBoardlist, said that despite the fact that women were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and historically overlooked for advancement, employers are starting to recognize the need for flexibility in the workplace. “It is encouraging to see 58% of employees believe that their company would benefit from having more women in leadership roles,” she said in a statement. “It would be great to see that number higher; however, I bet if we had surveyed this a decade ago, it would have been significantly lower. Progress is being made, even if slowly.”

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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